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A Historical Moment - The first-ever verdict of the International Criminal Court & Farewell to the Prosecutor

After temporary Criminal Courts, as for example in Nuremberg in 1948, or in recent time for Rwanda and for former Yugoslavia, have successfully been providing justice, the first permanent International Criminal Court will now deliver its first-ever verdict in The Hague.

Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga should be sentenced to 30 years in jail by the International Criminal Court, said the chief prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo on yesterday before the court in The Hague, asking for a "severe sentence". Mr Lubanga is charged with recruiting and using child soldiers in north-eastern DR Congo in 2002 and 2003. He does not deny that he led the Union of Congolese Patriots political group but has pleaded not guilty saying he was only a politician and was not involved in the violence.

The verdict in this case was rendered on 14 March 2012. Mr Lubanga was found guilty of conscripting and enlisting children under the age of 15, and using them to participate in armed conflict. Chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, stated: "The defendant stole the childhood of the victims by forcing them to kill and rape. Lubanga victimized the children before they ever had a chance to grow up." After documenting Mr Lubanga's activities, Anneke Van Woudenberg (Human Rights Watch) said she was hoping "that this verdict will start to see the process of justice begin". The verdict will be handed down by three judges and if Mr Lubanga is found guilty, he will face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. This is the first international trial focusing on the use of child soldiers and it is likely to set legal precedents for those accused of related crimes in the future.

Tomorrow, June 15th, The Cinema for Peace Foundation is hosting film screenings and a farewell dinner in The Hague to honour and farewell the first Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court and welcome his successor Fatou Bensouda in her new role as Chief Prosecutor of the ICC. During this momentous event, American-Syrian filmmaker Sam Kadi will deliver a statement pertaining to the situation in Syria and the critical need for the UN Security Council to refer the case to the ICC in order to issue an arrest warrant against a President who is murdering his own people. Mr Kadi has stated, "When children are being slaughtered by the dozen, intervention is no longer a political game but rather an imperative humanitarian action." Other artists have expressed their concern about the situation in Syria. Cary Elwes, actor, “The Princess Bride”, stated that "historians will study how the world stood idly by while thousands of innocents were led to the slaughter and will be dumbfounded as how to explain or justify such inaction and callousness."


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